Why study aging?

We are all aging!

Aging is the primary risk factor for many human pathologies, including cardiovascular and neurodegenerative diseases, cancer, and diabetes. Yet, understanding how organisms age remains one of the biggest challenges in biology.

Our Approach

How can we do it?

In the past 25 years, experiments in short-lived model systems (yeast, worms, and flies) have revolutionized the way we perceive aging – revealing that the aging rate itself can be manipulated by genetic and environmental interventions. However, the lack of short-lived vertebrate models for genetic studies has significantly limited our understanding of vertebrate aging, including the role of vertebrate-specific genes (e.g. IL8 and APOE), organs (e.g. bones and blood), and physiological processes (e.g. adaptive immunity).

To this end, we have developed a comprehensive genetic platform for rapid exploration of aging and disease in the shortest-lived vertebrate model, the African turquoise killifish, including a sequenced genome, CRISPR/Cas9-based genome editing, and mutant fish for many aging- and disease-relates genes.

(Check out our gallery of the killifish's natural habitat)

What are we interested in?

Taking advantage of this exciting platform, we are trying to answer fundamental questions in biology, such as 1) what is the molecular basis behind the outstanding diversity of lifespan between different animals (which can reach 500-fold difference among vertebrates); and 2) what separates disease from healthy aging? To explore these questions, we are developing a variety of disease models, as well as using cutting edge approaches (including single-cell technology, mass spectrometry, and genome-editing).

Ultimately, our research holds great promise for tackling one of the most fascinating questions in biology – how and why do we age?

Our Story

Selected publications

Efficient genome engineering approaches for the short-lived African turquoise killifish

Harel I, Valenzano DR, Brunet A., Nature Protoc. 11 (2016)

The African turquoise killifish: a model for exploring vertebrate aging and diseases in the fast lane

Harel I, Brunet A., Cold Spring Harb Symp Quant Biol (2015)

The African Turquoise Killifish Genome Provides Insights into Evolution and Genetic Architecture of Lifespan

Valenzano, D. R., Benayoun, B. A., Singh, P. P., Zhang, E., Etter, P. D., Hu, C. K., Clement-Ziza, M., Willemsen, D., Cui, R., Harel, I., Machado, B.,  E.Yee, M.,  C.Sharp, S. C., Bustamante, C. D., Beyer, A.Johnson, E. A., Brunet, A. Cell (2015)

A platform for rapid exploration of aging and diseases in a naturally short-lived vertebrate.

Harel I, Benayoun BA, Machado B, Singh P, Hu CK, Pech MF, Valenzano DR, Zhang E, Sharp SC, Artandi SE, Brunet A., Cell 160 (2015)

Where to find us

We are located at the Department of Genetics at the Institute of Life Sciences, surrounded by the beautiful Givat Ram campus at the the Hebrew University of Jerusalem (Israel)

Meet the Team

We are looking for highly motivated master/graduate students and postdocs.



Dr. Itamar Harel


Itamar Harel, PhD

Research interests: Aging, disease, and development; quantitative genetics; molecular mechanisms driving homeostasis; Vertebrate-specific traits.

Education: BSc, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev; PhD, Weizmann Institute of Science; Postdoctoral, Stanford

Hometown: Beit Elazari, Israel

Favorite saying: "its just the universe, resisting, the closer you get to revealing its secrets"

Favorite activities outside the lab: Hiking, Running, Painting, and Cooking

Dream baymate: David Attenborough

Birthday: October 6th

Lab Manager


Dr. Adi Gottesman


Adi Gottesman, PhD

Research interests: microbiology; disease; Aging; molecular Genetics.

Education: BSc, Hebrew University, Jerusalem; MSc and PhD:  Hebrew University-Hadassah Medical School, Department of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics

Hometown: Jerusalem, Israel

Favorite saying: "Be happy. It’s one way of being wise."

Favorite activities outside the lab: travelling, Reading, baking and going to the cinema

Dream baymate: Barbara McClintock

Birthday: June 22

Killifish Facility Manager


Ashayma Abu-Tair


Ashayma Abu-Tair, MSc

Research interests: Molecular Biology and Microbiology.

Education:BSc, Al-Quds University. MSc, Bir Ziet University

Hometown: Jerusalem, Israel

Favorite saying: "“The world is full of nice people. If you can't find one, be one.” Nishan Panwar"

Favorite activities outside the lab: Cooking, walking, camping, and anything makes my life more enjoyable and happier

Dream baymate: Malcolm X

PhD Student


Marva Bergman


Marva Bergman, MD

Research interests: Fertility and Reprosuctive system

Education: Hebrew University-Hadassah Medical School

Hometown: Jerusalem

Favorite saying: The greatest glory in living lies not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall

Favorite activities outside the lab: Running, sleeping and eating.

Dream baymate: Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Birthday: April 30th

PhD Student


Uri Goshtchevsky


Uri Goshtchevsky, MSc

Research interests: Temporal, organism-level, regulation of cellular maintenance mechanisms.

Education: BSc, Hebrew University Jerusalem Israel; MSc, Ben-Gurion University in the Negev

Hometown: Rehovot, Israel

Favorite saying: “The person who thinks he can and the person who thinks he can’t are both right”

Favorite activities outside the lab: Hiking, Gaming, Coding, Cooking & Baking, and reading.

Dream baymate: Wayne Brady

Birthday: July 28th

PhD Student,

Israel Ministry of Science and Technology fellow


Eitan Moses


Eitan Moses

Research interests: Aging, neural & physiological regulation and the relationship between them, and neurobiology.

Education: BSc, Hebrew University, Jerusalem

Hometown: Alon Shevut, Israel

Favorite saying: “Anything my dad says”

Favorite activities outside the lab: History podcasts, speculative fiction reading and writing, playing with the kids, Trivia.

Dream baymate: The greek goddess Hesychia

Birthday: July 12th (Tammuz 11th)


Walter-Benjamin DFG fellow


Mathias Diehl


Mathias Diehl, PhD

Research interests: Cell biology, ageing and aging-related diseases, cellular senescence, parasites.

Education: BSc and MSc Philipps-University Marburg, Dr. rer. nat. at Ruprecht-Karls-University Heidelberg

Hometown: Mörfelden (close to Frankfurt, Germany)

Favorite saying: “The room was filled with scientists* and twice as many opinions. (Adapted from Sir Terry Pratchett) *What applies to wizards also holds true for scientists.

Favorite activities outside the lab: Guitar, archery, gaming, virtual reality, reading

Dream baymate: Rick Sanchez

Birthday: September 24th


Czech Science Foundation fellow


Roman Franěk

Roman Franěk, PhD

Research interests:Reproductive biology and germ stem cells

Education:University of South Bohemia, Faculty of Fisheries and Protection of Water

Hometown: Vcelna (near Budweis), Czech Republic

Favorite saying: “If the problem can be solved why worry? If the problem cannot be solved, worrying will do you no good.”

Favorite activities outside the lab: Enjoying time with our dogs, travelling

Dream baymate: I already have my dream baymates 🙂

Birthday: July 11th

MSc Student

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Itai Rozenberg


Itai Rozenberg

Research interests: Aging, rejuvenating and cell death

Education: BSc, Hebrew University, Jerusalem

Hometown: Modiin, Israel

Favorite saying: “In the end, everything always work out”

Favorite activities outside the lab: Cooking and eating, traveling and arguing with friends

Dream baymate: Dan Carlin

Birthday: September 12

PhD Student


Tehila Atlan


Tehila Atlan

Research interests: Aging, Brain, Cellular senescence, Microbiome, Genetics.

Education: BSc, Jerusalem College of Technology

Hometown: Beit El, Israel

Favorite saying: A comfort zone is a beautiful place, but nothing ever grows there

Favorite activities outside the lab: swinging, running, reading and diving

Dream baymate: David Eagleman

Birthday: September 19th


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Omer Ben Dor

Omer Ben Dor

Research interests: Aging, Molecular biology, Genetics, Mitochondrial biology, Metabolism

Education: Current - BSc, Hebrew University, Jerusalem

Hometown: Ramat HaSharon, Israel

Favorite saying: By trying there is a chance to succeed. without it the chance is lower…”.

Favorite activities outside the lab: Hiking and tracking, Boulder climbing, Board games.

Dream baymate: Aristotle

Birthday: April 28th


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Yoshua Olender

Yoshua Olender

Research interests:Aging, baculovirus, infections, biology

Education: Current - BSc, Hebrew University, Jerusalem

Hometown: Jerusalem, Israel.

Favorite saying: “Don't stop when you're tired. Stop when you're done.”

Favorite activities outside the lab: Reading, Eating hamburgers and running.

Dream baymate: Simón Bolívar.

Birthday: July 26th.

Animal model


Nothobranchius furzeri

Turquoise killifish (Nothobranchius furzeri)

Research interests: Swimming, eating, mating, aging.

Education: University of life

Hometown: Gonarezhou national park, Zimbabwe 

Favorite saying: "The light that burns twice as bright burns half as long" (Blade Runner)

Favorite activities outside the lab: N/A

Birthday: a couple of months ago


Dr. Gwendoline Astre


Postdoctoral fellow

Ella Yanay, MSc


Killifish Facility Manager

Shay Kinreich


Undergraduate researcher 

Lev R. Seaton


Undergraduate researcher 

Nadav Bruchiel


Undergraduate researcher 

Ariel Velan, MSc


Killifish Facility Manager